“A man always carries a wallet, wears a belt and looks another man in the eye with a firm handshake.” I grew up hearing this—ever since I could walk! It’s my dad’s credo…the foundational principle and basis of his belief structure on real manhood. And he has hammered this home for as long as I can remember. As I grew older I pushed back on some of it. I’ve worn only jeans since the 7th grade, so I hated wearing a belt (and never needed to until age eroded what little butt I had). I now wear one simply out of necessity—to keep me from "baggin' and saggin'". I also hate carrying around a wallet. It feels like I’m sitting on half a phonebook when I’ve got one crammed in my back pocket (most likely age-related, too).
But the firm handshake and looking someone in the eye…that, I stick with.
Which is what I did, over-and-over again this past weekend, as Jim Burgen wrapped up the Reverse Engineering series—ending each service with a challenge and a commitment…and a pledge. Jim asked the men of Flatirons to come forward to the front of the auditorium, step across a thin red line on the floor (a “line in the sand”—marking life before and life after the commitment), read and sign a resolution—promising to be the husband, the father, and the friend God calls us to be…and then, to get a black wristband with a thin red line to signify your commitment.
I had a front row seat to the whole thing because I had the privilege of joining some other guys (staff and ministry team leaders) who got to stand behind a table, look these men in the eye and shake their hand, and then give them their Thin Red Line wristband. The reactions and responses from the men who came forward over the weekend ran the full gamut of emotion:
Men who were almost giddy and exuberant with joy…
Men who solemnly and purposely stepped over the red line to the table…
Men who could barely stand, quaking at the significance of the moment…
But the one who is etched in my mind…the man who I’ll remember forever…is the guy who came up to me, signed his name and reached out his hand with a terrified, almost stunned look on his face. You could tell…this was a HUGE step.
I took his hand (and following what my dad taught), grasped it firmly, looked him in the eye and said, “God bless you. You’re a good man. You can do this.”
At this, the man looked deep in my eyes, as if searching me, to see if I knew something that he didn’t. We stood there for a long moment…his hand clamping down on mine…not wanting to let go. I shook his hand again and reiterated, “You can do this.” Then, his stunned and terrified face sort of melted away into a slight smile. He slowly nodded his head, let go of my hand, took his wristband and disappeared into the throng of guys waiting their turn.
To my knowledge, I’d never seen that man before, but to me, he represents us all—every man who walks through the doors of Flatirons; stunned and terrified by the responsibility laid out before us during this last “man” series…looking for hope and confirmation from someone else…for someone to look us in the eye and say, “You can do this.”
I can’t wait to see what happens in the lives of the people at Flatirons from this point on. I firmly believe that we will see God do great things through what we’ve gone over the last 8 weeks in Reverse Engineering.
And to all the guys who missed out or who needed to catch up on the weeks that they’ve missed…or who just weren’t ready…we’ll be set up and waiting for you in the lobby…from this weekend on…waiting for you to step across that thin red line…sign your name to the roster and make your commitment…get your wristband...a firm handshake…and hear someone tell you…
“You can do this…”